The Healing Power of the Twenty-Third Psalm

Our modern word “psychiatry” comes from two Greek words that mean (1) “Soul” or “mind” and (2) “treatment” or “healing.” Together, they mean “the healing of the mind,” or, as David might have said, “the restoring of the soul.” And only God can heal the soul.

So, the first and most important psychiatry must be God’s psychiatry, the essence of which I find contained in the best-known passages of the Bible.

A man I admired came to see me. Many years ago, he started with his company at the bottom, but with determination to get to the top. He had unusual abilities and energy and he used all he had. Today, he is president of his company and he has all the things that go with his position.

Yet, along the way, he left out something, and one of the tings he did not achieve is happiness. He was a nervous, tense, worried, and sick man. Finally, his physician suggested that he talk with a minister.

We talked of how his physician had given him prescriptions and he had taken them. Then, I took a sheet of paper and wrote out my prescription for him. I prescribed the Twenty-Third Psalm, five times a day for seven days.

I insisted that he take it just as I prescribed. He was to read it the first thing when he awakened in the morning. Read it carefully, meditatively, and prayerfully. Immediately after breakfast, he was to do exactly the same thing. Also immediately after lunch, again after dinner, and, then finally, the last thing before he went to bed.

It was not to be a quick, hurried reading. He was to think about each phrase, giving his mind time to soak up as much of the meaning as possible. At the end of just one week, I promised, things would be different for him.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” Marcus Aurelius said, “A man’s life is what his thoughts make it.” And the Bible says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7)

The Twenty-Third Psalm is a pattern of thinking, and when a mind becomes saturated with it, a new way of thinking and a new life are the result. It contains only 118 words. One could memorize it in a short time. In fact, most of us already know it. But its power comes not from memorizing the words, but rather in thinking the thoughts.

The power of this Psalm lies in the fact that it reprents a positive, hopeful, faithful approach to life. We assume it was written by David, the same David who had a black chapter of sin and failure in his life. But he spends no time in useless regret and morbid looking back.

Take the Twenty-Third Psalm as I prescribe, and in seven days a powerful new way of thinking will be deeply and firmly implanted within your mind. And that will bring marvelous changes in your thinking and give you a new life.

-Charles L. Allen
From God’s Psychiatry by Charles L. Allen (c) 1953 by Fleming H. Revell Co.

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